Future of Hope?

Posted by James Keller on 03/17/18 @ 3:40 PM

Jeremiah 29:11 (GW)
11 I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.

When Jeremiah wrote this, many of the people had been carried away captive to Babylon.  They were hoping to come home soon.  Instead, the Lord told them to settle down, get married, and pray for the prosperity of the city they were living in (Jeremiah 29:4-7).  He also tells them that their time in Babylon will be 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10).  But, God promises to give them peace in their current situation and hope for their future.  He promises to send them back home in the future.

So, what does this promise have to do with us today?  God doesn’t want to bring disaster on us but rather peace and hope for the future.  How can you hold onto this promise if you are living in disaster, pain, and suffering?    Here are three ways to hold onto this promise:

1)      Recognize that the pain and suffering you are going through may be of your own doing.  God doesn’t promise to bless sin.  If you are a bank robber who gets arrested and sent to jail, you can’t get mad at God for not providing you with peace or a future of hope.  You have derailed the blessing that God wanted to give you.  Let me be clear; I am not saying that all suffering is a direct result of our sin.  But too many people have decided not to listen to God and follow His ways, and then they complain that God doesn’t love them.  If you are not living in peace, if your future is not one of hope, do a reality gut check.  Is the reason because you are not living according to God’s plan?  Be honest. Don’t blame God for your sinful behavior and the consequences that follow because of it.  If this is the reason for your suffering, ask God for forgiveness and change the way you think and act.  Then you can look forward to a future filled with hope.

But what if what you are experiencing is not a direct result of your sin? 

2)      Notice that God is talking about your future.  He is not talking about your present.  What was the future hope of those Israelites living in exile in Babylon?  Returning to the promised land.  What is the future filled with hope that God is promising you?  The promised land of heaven.  What was the time frame the Israelites in captivity had to wait? 70 years -- a lifetime.  Those who were carried away captive had to live a lifetime in captivity before experiencing their future of hope. If life here on earth is all there is, what do we have to hope for?  If this is as good as it gets, it doesn’t get very good.  But God promises us something better.  That is what hope is.  Hope believes that there is something better waiting for us.  What is waiting for us is heaven!  We are promised that Jesus is preparing a special place for us (John 14:2).  We are told that in heaven there will be no more suffering (Rev. 21:4).  Heaven is the future filled with hope that is waiting for all of us who follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

3)      The Israelites living in captivity were told to make the best of their situation (Jeremiah 29:4-7) while living in hope for the future.  What would have happened if they had not married and had children?  They would have died out.  Very few would have been left to return to the promised land.  Those that did return would not have lived very long after returning.  God told them to pray for the welfare of the place they were living.  Were they always happy about living in Babylon?  Of course not.  But God was using their time in Babylon to prepare them for their return to the promised land.  It is the same for us today.  What if God is using the pain and suffering that you are experiencing to prepare you for something better?   I wrestled for many years.  This meant hours of training and sweating in the practice room.  Sometimes we laughed at what was happening.  Often, we left the room with aching muscles and tired bodies.  We sacrificed a lot to be in that practice room.  We gave up time with our friends.  Why?  So, we could wrestle on the mats in a meet.  However, the real reason we practiced hard was not just to wrestle but to win.  The real goal was the winner’s podium that we would stand on.  That was the goal, not just to wrestle but to win.  It is the same with our lives here on earth.  We go through hard times so that God can strengthen our spiritual muscles.  He strengthens our spiritual muscles so that we can stand in victory in heaven with Jesus.

These are the three ways I came up to live out this verse.  What other ways do you live out this verse?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Salvation is Like….

Posted by James Keller on 03/11/18 @ 11:04 PM

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

Have you ever thought about how salvation is described in the Bible?  Our memory verse for this week describes it as a gift. A gift is not earned; then it would be a paycheck.  A gift is well a gift.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us that this gift is given by grace.  What is grace?  One acrostic for grace is: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is getting God’s undeserved love.  Undeserved means we aren’t supposed to get it.

Jesus talked about salvation with Nicodemus in John 3.  He compared it to being born again or being born from above (John 3:5).  What did you have to do to be born of your parents?  Truthfully nothing.  You did not choose your parents.  You did not choose the day of your conception or the day of your birth.  Jesus says that salvation is the same way.  Just like being born a baby to earthly parents, a person who is a newborn babe in the faith also had nothing to do with his or her spiritual birth.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:14 that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance.  How do you get an inheritance?  Someone has to die.  Jesus is the One who dies, leaving you an inheritance.  Again, you do not do anything to receive this inheritance.  Someone else worked for it.  They now left it to you.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:5 that we were spiritually dead, but by faith in Christ we are made spiritually alive.  What can a dead person do?  Sit around, rot, and stink up the place!

Let’s review:  Salvation is called a gift, being born, an inheritance, and being made alive.  All these point to someone else acting on our behalf.  To receive a gift, you must have a gift giver.  To be born, you must have one who gives birth. To receive an inheritance, someone must die, if you are dead, someone must raise you to life. None of these points to our effort.  All these point to Christ acting on our behalf. 

I know some people say that to receive a gift, you must accept it.  But the emphasis is on the giving of the gift, not on the receiver.  But even if you do have to receive it, so what?  You cannot receive what has not been given!  What does all this mean?  You and I are saved not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

Can you think of any other ways that salvation/being saved is talked about in the Bible?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Jesus Saves

Posted by James Keller on 02/26/18 @ 8:56 PM

John 3:17 (GW)
17 God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world.

Many people think of God as being an angry god.  They think of what Christians are against.  These are negative views of God and true Christians.  It is true that God hates sin.  It is true that God must punish sin.  But the truth is, God does not take pleasure in punishing people.  In fact, God would much rather bless people than curse people.

Our memory verse for this week is proof of that.  Most people are familiar with John 3:16 (GW)

16 God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.  But still many people think that God is an angry God.  This is what happens when we “cherry pick” Bible verses and don’t read them in their context.  God loves the world, so He sends Jesus.  What is Jesus’ purpose?   Not to condemn but to save.  Jesus came to save us, not to condemn us -- to send us to hell or tell us how angry God is with us over our sins.  Jesus came to save us from God’s anger. 

We see how Jesus came not to condemn but to save especially in the account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8).  She was guilty, but Jesus did not condemn.  Jesus came so that God’s righteous anger over our sin could be poured out on Jesus.  Jesus on the cross is where God’s anger over our sins is exhausted.

The question is: why would anyone not want to love Jesus?  Why would anyone not want to follow Him?  He doesn’t condemn; He saves! 

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Treasures in Heaven

Posted by James Keller on 02/03/18 @ 9:10 PM

Matthew 6:20 (GW)20 Instead, store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust don't destroy and thieves don't break in and steal.

We all have experienced losing earthly possessions.  Maybe it was a broken piece of jewelry.  Maybe it was a lost wallet.  Maybe it was a book we left out in the rain.  Maybe it was a T.V. that was stolen.  We know that these things don’t last.  They wear out.  Your new cell phone is out of date and won’t update to the latest operating system.  You designer clothes are last year’s fashions.  You get the picture.  But what is Jesus talking about when He says we are to store up treasures in heaven?

There is an old story about a man who died and met St. Peter at the gates to heaven.  He asked St. Peter if he could bring a suitcase to heaven.  St. Peter asked him why he would want to do that when heaven was prepared for him and all his needs. The man begged St. Peter to let him in with his suitcase.  Finally, St. Peter agreed.  “But first,” St. Peter asked, “may I see what is in your suitcase?”  The man agreed and opened his suitcase.  It was filled with gold bars.  St. Peter laughed, “Why would you want to bring in pavement to heaven?”

We cannot imagine how great heaven will be.  But we are told that the streets are made of gold.  In other words, gold is considered so cheap in heaven it is only good for making streets.  So how can we store up treasure in heaven?  King Solomon, the wisest man on the earth said: Ecclesiastes 5:15 (GW) 15 They came from their mother's womb naked. They will leave as naked as they came. They won't even be able to take a handful of their earnings with them from all their hard work.

Joe Boway, missionary to the children of Liberia, had a sign above his desk for the longest time.  The sign read, “The only thing we can take to heaven is people.”  Think about that for a moment.  How can we take people to heaven?  Only by telling them the Good News that Jesus is the way to heaven.  Jesus once told a story about a dishonest manager (Luke 16:1-8).  It seems that Jesus is applauding the man’s dishonesty.  But then Jesus says these words in verse 9: Luke 16:9 (GW) 9 {Jesus continued,} “I'm telling you that although wealth is often used in dishonest ways, you should use it to make friends for yourselves. When life is over, you will be welcomed into an eternal home.  Jesus is talking about using our money in such a way that we make friends for ourselves in heaven.  How do we do that?  By using our money to spread the Gospel.  When we do that, lives are changed for eternity.  When we support our local church with our tithes and offerings, our local church can carry out its ministry in our community and beyond.  Our local church is to be the first place that shares the Good News of Jesus.  We should support missionaries and agencies that also go to those places and people that we cannot go.  Our financial support of them frees them of the burden of raising money so they can concentrate on sharing Jesus with the people around them.  If we use our monies to support our local church, missionaries, and other agencies, we will be storing up treasures in heaven.  Heaven will be full of friends eager to meet us because it was through our sacrificial giving that the Gospel was able to reach them.  What a welcome that will be!

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Bought with a Price

Posted by James Keller on 01/24/18 @ 1:48 PM

1 Corinthians 6:20 (GW)
20 You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body.

You were bought.  That implies that someone had ownership of you.  The buyer is Jesus.  So, from whom did Jesus buy you?

Romans 7:14 (GW) 

14 I know that God's standards are spiritual, but I have a corrupt nature, sold as a slave to sin.

Paul says that if you sin, you are sold as a slave to sin.  But how can sin own you?  Isn’t sin a non-being?  Paul also says in Romans 6:23 (GW)23 The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Sin = Death.  Isn’t that what God told Adam in the Garden of Eden?  He told him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God told Adam that when he ate of it, he would die.  Adam and Eve did eat of it.  They did die.  Their eating was an act of disobedience or sin.  Sin leads to death.  But again, sin is a non-entity.  Sin is not a person.  Who owned you before Jesus bought you?

Hebrews 2:14 (GW)

14 Since all of these sons and daughters have flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood to be like them. He did this so that by dying he would destroy the one who had power over death (that is, the devil).

Sin leads to death.  The devil has the power over death.  It was the devil who introduced sin into God’s perfect creation.  When you and I sin, we are placing ourselves under the ownership of the devil.  The devil tricked Eve into sinning by promising one thing and then delivering death. He still does that today.  He makes sin look so good.  He promises happiness and satisfaction.  The truth is, we may have a fleeting moment of happiness and satisfaction, but then we feel empty or guilty.  The devil then tries to get us to sin more to cover up our feelings of emptiness and guilt.  The more we sin, the more our hunger is for sin because the emptiness grows.  In the end, it leads to disillusionment, shame, and death.  The devil makes all kinds of sweet promises, but behind them is death, not just physical dying, but eternally dying in torment where there is no relief even for a moment from the torment.  Do a few brief moments of happiness outweigh an eternity of suffering?  But the devil doesn’t want you to think about that.  He just wants you to think about the here and now.  Worry about the future later.  The problem is, the future is now.  You and I never know when the end will come, the end of this life on earth and the beginning of an eternity in hell. 

The devil owned us because of our sin.  But in steps Jesus.  He pays the price to free us from the slavery of sin, from the fear of death, from our cruel master the devil.  What is the price that Jesus pays?  His very life -- a life for a life.  Jesus, true man and true God, takes our place in the slave auction.  He pays for us with His very blood, sweat, and tears.  He bears His back to the cruel slave master’s whip so that we don’t have to receive the lashings due us.  He allows Himself to be shamed, mocked, and abused so that you and I can have our heads exalted.   Jesus allows Himself to be nailed to a cross so that the final payment for our freedom can be made.  He cries out from the cross, “It is finished,” which actually means “Paid in full!”

When a slave is bought, the slave has a new owner.  Jesus paid for us.  We now belong to Him.  Don Wharton sang a song years ago called “Two Times You’re Mine.”  Part of the chorus goes:

Mine, mine, two times you’re mine

Once because I made you

Once because I paid for you

Jesus made us.  We are His creations. But then we sold ourselves into slavery to the devil.  So, Jesus had to buy us back.  We are His twice.  But the second time we were bought for a price.  How will you live a life of gratitude to Jesus?  Will you go back to your first cruel slave master who really wants to destroy you?  Or will you live for Jesus?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

One God?

Posted by James Keller on 01/17/18 @ 10:35 AM

Deuteronomy 6:4 (ESV) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Do you know what heresy is?  According to, heresy is an opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.

Most heresies start with how we view God.  Imagine a two-year old trying to explain to another two-ear old what it means to be an adult.  How accurate do you think that would be?  It may have some truth, but it would probably have a lot that would make us laugh.  That is what happens when we mere humans try to explain God.  How can mortal humans with limited knowledge be able to explain an immortal God who has all knowledge?

So, where do find out about God?  God has revealed (made himself known) to us through His Word.  The problem is that too often we try to use human logic to understand the Word of God.  We try to view God’s Word through our own human experiences.  This is a problem for many reasons.  One is that the Bible was written in a different time, culture, and context.  To try to understand the Bible only by using our present-day culture and context will confuse us.  We need to understand the culture and context that the Bible was written to understand the Bible.

One of the first rules for reading the Bible is to look for the clear and simple meaning.  We get into all kinds of trouble when we ignore the simple meaning.  This leads to heresy. 

Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God is one.   There is only one God.  God is very clear that we should only worship the one true God.  That is the first of the Ten Commandments.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  But God also reveals Himself as three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Where do we find this?

Mark 1:9-11 (GW) 

9   At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came out of the water, he saw heaven split open and the Spirit coming down to him as a dove. 11 A voice from heaven said, “You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you.”

Jesus is called the Son of God.  Here at His baptism we see Jesus being baptized.  A voice speaks from heaven calling Jesus His Son.  How do we know this is the Father?  Jesus calls Him that many times throughout the Gospels. John 20:17 (GW) 17 Jesus told her, “Don't hold on to me. I have not yet gone to the Father. But go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

How can Jesus call someone else His father if He is the Father?  This would take quite some Scriptural gymnastics to understand Jesus as the Father who speaks about going to Himself.

Also, in Jesus’ baptism we see the Holy Spirit coming down as a dove.  The Holy Spirit is not an emanation or power of God.  The Holy Spirit is a unique person.  Mark 13:11 (GW) 11 When they take you away to hand you over to the authorities, don't worry ahead of time about what you will say. Instead, say whatever is given to you to say when the time comes. Indeed, you are not the one who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit will.

There are many more verses about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  If you would like to research this for yourself, you can use an online Bible study tool like BibleGateway.  Just type in words like Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  You may need to refine your search to get the exact verses you want.  Another good resource to study this is Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation.  If you do not have access to the Catechism, you can download a pdf of it here:  Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation.

Study especially the First Commandment and the Apostles’ Creed.

What do we call this God who reveals Himself as three persons?  We call Him the Triune God.  You won’t find the word Triune or Trinity in the Bible.  But you will find proof of it.  Triune simply means Three-in-One.  God reveals Himself, makes Himself known to us, as the God Who is Three-in-One.  How can we understand this?  How can we understand that Jesus is fully human and at the same time fully God?  How can we understand that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for all our sins?  How can we understand that God who hates sin loves us who are full of sin?  We can’t fully understand these things.  But we can take God at His word.  God tells us that He loves us yet hates our sin.  God tells us that Jesus is the answer to our sin problem.  God tells us that Jesus is fully human and also fully God.  Finally, God tells us that He is one yet three: One What (God)--Three Who (Persons).  He is the God who is Three-in-One.

One final verse that tells this truth is Matthew 28:18-19 (GW)18 When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Baptize in one name. Name is singular here (Jesus had perfect understanding of grammar; He knew the difference between singular and plural), yet three persons.  Take God at His word.  Don’t try to understand Him; just trust Him!

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim


Posted by James Keller on 01/05/18 @ 9:36 AM

Hebrews 11:1 (GW)
1 Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.

When we talk of faith, we are not talking about “blind” faith.  Rather our faith is trusting in a God who keeps His promises.  A little child recognizes the tone in his father’s voice.  The same father can call a child by name, but the way he calls lets the child know if he is being punished or rewarded.  When a father who is known for his love and kindness calls to his little one, the little one is quick to run into his father’s outstretched arms.  Why?  Because the child’s past experiences with his father have been positive.  He thinks, “The last time my father used that tone of voice I received a big hug and daddy kisses.”  Why wouldn’t this child run into his father’s arms?  So too, our experience with our Heavenly Father will determine how quickly we run into His arms. If we have learned to trust Him at His Word, we will run quickly.  If we have doubted Him, though His Word remains firm and unchanging, we will be hesitant to come.

My experience with Jesus is that He can be trusted.  He keeps His promises.  He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.  When I look back over my life, I see that it is not Jesus who leaves me but rather I who try to leave Him.  Jesus promises to forgive me.  When I doubt this, I neglect asking for forgiveness.  Yet, when I ask, He is more than ready to forgive.

I find that it is not Jesus who needs reminding of His promises, but rather I who need to be reminded of His promises and His faithfulness.  Just because I do not understand how Jesus can fulfill His Word does not limit Jesus in keeping His Word.  This is of great comfort to me.  I am weak, yet He is strong. His strength is not dependent on me or mine. 

My faith looks trustingly, 
Thou Lamb of Calvary, 
Savior divine! 
Now hear me while I pray, 
Take all my guilt away, 
O let me from this day 
Be wholly thine!


Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Lord, Lord?

Posted by James Keller on 12/22/17 @ 10:24 PM

Matthew 7:21 (ESV)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

These words of Jesus come near the end of His Sermon on the Mount.  If you remember, He starts out His Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes (Blessed are the poor...).  He begins by talking about those who are blessed by God.  Here near the end, He gives warnings.  This warning is perhaps the most frightening.  How do we know if Jesus will truly know us?  How do we know if we are crying out to Him, “Lord, Lord” in such a way that He will recognize us? 

Jesus gives us the answer in the second half of this verse: the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  This begs the questions, “What is the Father’s will?”

John 6:39 (ESV)

39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Believe in Jesus.  That is the will of the Father.  We find that faith in Jesus is the way to heaven.  This is found all throughout the Bible.  But how do we know if we have faith?  That is what Jesus is talking about in the Sermon on the Mount.  He is telling us how our faith should shape our lives.  Our faith is not separated from how we live.  Our faith impacts our lives in such a way that others should see it.  How should they see our faith? 

Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

We call this the Golden Rule.  But the only way to truly live out the Golden Rule is to live by faith in Jesus.  Our faith in Jesus will cause us to live differently.  We will stop living for ourselves and start living for others. The good news is that we don’t make these changes on our own.  The Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that gives us faith, also begins to make the changes in our lives.  This is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7:17 (ESV): 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 

James, the brother of Jesus, talks about this in his letter. James 2:17-18 (ESV)) 

17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

Faith in Jesus is more than just knowledge; it is a lifestyle.  The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us to live out our faith in our daily lives.  How are you doing living out your faith?

 Christ’s slave,

 Pastor jim


Faithful and Reliable

Posted by James Keller on 12/15/17 @ 7:53 PM

1 John 1:9 (GW)
9 God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we've done wrong.

Admitting we have done wrong is hard.  Our natural tendency is to try to blame someone else.  That is what Adam did. Genesis 3:12 (GW) 12 The man answered, “That woman, the one you gave me, gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” God saw through Adam’s blame game, and He sees through yours and mine.

What God wants is for us to admit or confess our sins.  We are not to be proud of the fact we have sinned, but we are to stand in humble sorrow over our sin.  True confession of sin is humbling.  We admit that we were in the wrong.  We admit that we are guilty.  We admit that we deserve punishment. We place ourselves into the hands of the people we have done wrong.  We are now at their mercy.  That is the scary part.  They have the right to carry out justice upon us.  No one likes to be punished.

This is where Satan comes in.  He lied to Adam and Eve.  He still lies today.  He looks for an opening.  He whispers lies in your ears.  What are those lies?  “You can’t be forgiven.  You have used up all of God’s grace.”  Or “You don’t need to be forgiven for that. God will let it slide.”  Just as Satan’s first lie to Adam and Eve in the garden led to their being separated from God and their eventual death, listening to these lies will also lead to your further separation from God and your death.

That is where 1 John 1:9 comes in.  If we confess our sins, if we admit we have wronged God, if we humble ourselves before God and admit that He has every right to punish us, what will God do?  God will prove His faithfulness and His reliability!  God has promised that when we confess our sins, He will forgive them, not once, not twice, but every time.  Which sins does He promise to forgive?  All of them!  There is not one sin that God won’t forgive if we confess it.  Do you hear that, Satan?  God’s grace is just that, grace!  His grace is big enough to take care of all our sins!  God’s grace doesn’t run out.  Instead, God’s grace runs to!  His grace runs to the sinner who confesses his sins.  His grace runs to the person who cries over his/her sin.  His grace is big enough, deep enough, wide enough, and long enough to cover every sin.  There is no sin that God’s grace can’t take care of!

The next time you sin (which could be right after you read this), don’t be afraid to climb onto your Father’s lap, bury your head in His chest, and confess your sin.  He will forgive you!  He will hug and kiss you!  He will hold you!  He will NOT throw you off His lap!

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

Good Works Prepared for You

Posted by James Keller on 12/06/17 @ 11:45 AM

Ephesians 2:10 (GW)
10 God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.

When I was a preschool director in California, I also oversaw the after-school care program.  During the summer it meant that all the school age children were with us all day.  I was blessed one summer by having a retired high school shop teacher from our church volunteer to teach the school age children one hour a week.  He prepared individual packets of craft materials for the students.  One week they worked on birdhouses.  Each student received a packet of the pieces necessary to build a birdhouse.  He had pre-cut everything.  He had pre-drilled everything.  He had just the right number of nails for each house. He supervised their building of these houses.  If students didn’t pay attention and started to put random pieces together, he would walk over and gently correct them. If someone was unsure what to do next, he patiently talked the child through it.  If they still couldn’t do it, he wrapped his hands around theirs and helped them hold the tools the right way, or he helped them put the pieces together.    At the end of the hour, everyone had a birdhouse.  No two were the same, but all the students were proud of their birdhouses.  Why?  Because he told them what a good job they did.

Our memory verse says that God does the same thing for us today.  God has prepared good works for us to do.  He has already made all the preparations for us.  If we are unsure what or how we should do these good works, He speaks to us through His Word, or through another person, or even through the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  If we still are confused, He gently wraps His nail-scarred hands around ours and patiently walks us through it.  He doesn’t give us a good work that we can’t complete.  He has prepared everything so that we will hear Him say, “Good job!  I’m proud of you!”

What are these good works?  Some may be very big things, but most are found in our everyday living.  Taking care of our families.  Raising our kids.  Loving our spouse.  Helping those in need.  Showing kindness to strangers.  Working hard at our jobs.  Supporting each other in our church. No two of us will do it exactly the same.  But God is with us every step of the way.  He has already made sure we have all that we need to complete these good works.  If we start without His direction, He lovingly corrects us.  If we get stuck, we can go to Him in prayer.  If we mess up, He is there to help us to make it right. 

What is the good work that God has assigned to you today?

Christ’s slave,

Pastor jim

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